Two enforced retirements during rounds 19 and 20 of the 2011 Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series at Spa-Francorchamps today, Friday, 29th July, dealt a bitter blow to Menasheh Idafar’s hopes for the weekend – all after having made a very promising start in pre-event testing.
Following a strong practice run on Thursday, 28th July, where he was the eighth quickest British F3 racer – the action in Belgium also featuring drivers from the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy – the 20-year-old hoped for a similarly impressive performance in qualifying.
Unfortunately, an excursion on his fifth lap of the session meant Menasheh was unable to post a representative time and so he had to start the first of the weekend’s encounters from the tail end of the grid and with a huge task on his hands to carve his way through the 28-car field.
Undeterred, the T-Sport driver produced a sensational opening lap to climb to the fringe of the top 20 and after gaining further places on the next two tours he looked set to make significant inroads. Rising as high as 17th position, Menasheh was involved in a moment on lap six which dropped him to 20th but his recovery ended soon after when he was pitched into retirement on lap nine.
With the finishing order from race one determining the grid for race two, round 20, he again had a fight on his hands – especially with the race being the shortest of the weekend at just 20-minutes duration. Once more, his start was good and the British-born Bahraini climbed from 25th on the grid into 18th position but contact on lap five resulted in a visit to the pits and another non-finish.
“It’s been a really disappointing day but there’s always a chance of contact when you’re starting so far down”, said the Dallara-Volkswagen driver, “We just need to give it our best shot tomorrow and see what happens. We start at the back again so it’ll be really tough but we’ll try really hard to end the weekend with a good result.”
Round 21, the final race of the Spa-Francorchamps weekend, will take place at 12.40 (local time) tomorrow, Saturday, 30th July. Due to forming part of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, the action will also be screened live across Europe on Motors TV – check www.motorstv.com for details.